GEORGE TOWN (April 27, 2008): By Bernard Cheah
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng warned the federal government today against undermining the confidence of the people of Penang and the state government or underestimating the resolve they have.
He said that since Penangites are also tax-payers, they should not be kept in the dark.
The people, he said, want to know decisions made by federal government which have an impact on their future.
"We hope the people of Penang will be treated (by the federal government) with respect and dignity," he said in a press conference after officiating at the Mount Miriam Hospital Ho Chiak! Food and Fun Fair 2008 charity event today.
Lim was answering questions from the press regarding Finance Minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop's statement yesterday that the federal government had yet to approve the monorail system and the Penang Outer Ring Road, which are huge projects.
Nor Mohamed said they were not projects approved under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. He, however, said the second bridge project was on.
Lim said he wanted to hear from Nor Mohamed the status of these projects.
He said there had been conflicting reports on the second bridge project, with one daily newspaper recently stating that it will go on as planned and another saying it may not even take off.
"Let's hear from the horse's mouth on what the actual position is," he said.
Lim said he wondered what was happening bacause the state had been assured by both the federal government and the previous state government that all the projects had been given the green light.
"There is no communication from the federal government, therefore what we know is what we read in the newspapers. Is this healthy? We should be informed before an announcement is made," he said.
He said the state wanted to cooperate with the federal government but, at the same time, it would voice its views on the projects.
"We've got the mandate from Penangites to play our role. And I hope the federal government can appreciate our role as the state government. Is it wrong if we ask about the toll rate (for the second Penang bridge)? What if it goes up to RM20? Can Penangites afford to pay it?"
Asked if the state government had made any moves to contact the federal government, Lim said: "We have taken the initiative, for example, when we sought information about the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority."
He said the state government contacted the Northern Corridor Economic Region adviser Datuk Seri Mohd Annuar Zaini, who is also the Bernama chairman, and they held a discussion, which was a positive move.
Lim also commented on:
>> On Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Nor Omar's announcement yesterday that his ministry would stop providing development funds to the five Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states, but will be distributed through Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) instead. The funds amount to RM100 million a year:
"It's like another act of 'balas dendam' (revenge) towards the action of the public. Why should it be done? We hope that the federal government would look into the matter."
He said such action is viewed as not respecting the public's choice of government in the recent general election.
>> Lim questioned the need for a parallel government and administration to the one chosen by the people.
"If the federal government wants to set up an action council or department, we do not object. However, it should have a state representative in it.
He said the goovernment should not impose its own will without taking into account the public's rights.
"The actions taken is like colonisation of the opposition states, and we hope not to have that," he said.
> On Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar's statement that the government would not abolish the preventive laws, such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Official Secrets Acts (OSA):
"We hope that such primitive laws will be stopped, and let Malaysia join the borderless world, which has freedom of information, freedom of the press, and of ideas and ideals," Lim, who was once detained under the ISA, said.
On the one-week ban on Tamil daily Makkai Osai, he said it should not have happened in the first place.
"It is understood that when they (Makkai Osai) were given the (renewed) licence, they were under probation for 60 days to see how they behave. I don't think this is right.
"The reissuing of licence is good, but why ban it in the first place? Is it a form of intimidation?"